Archives of American Art Announces Grant From the Henry Luce Foundation To Expand Its Collections on African American Art and Artists

By the Archives
April 27, 2017

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art announced that it has received a $575,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support a three-year African American Collecting Initiative. While the Archives has collected the papers and oral histories of important figures in African American art from its founding in 1954, the grant will advance the process of building and strengthening the collection. 

The Henry Luce Foundation is a long-time supporter of the Archives’ mission to foster research by collecting, preserving and making available a diversity of primary source material documenting the history of the visual arts in the United States.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a second research facility in New York City, the Archives holds nearly 6,000 collections of archival material on the artists, collectors, dealers and scholars who have shaped the history of art in America. Approximately a thousand items in the collections hold significant content for the study and appreciation of African American art and artists, ranging from Horace Pippin’s World War I memoir to the papers of Adrian Piper. Recent acquisitions include materials on Beauford Delaney from the Galerie Darthea Speyer in Paris, documentation of 400 outsider artists represented in the papers of Jimmy Hedges and the records of his Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Rising Fawn Folk Gallery. 

“The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to support the Archives of American Art in this major effort to further secure the vital history of African American art and artists,” said Teresa A. Carbone, program director for American art at the Henry Luce Foundation. “It is exciting to know that these resources will become available to a wide scholarly and popular audience.”

“We are delighted to receive this generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to bolster our collections by and about African American artists and make them available to the world at our headquarters in Washington and digitally,” said Kate Haw, director of the Archives of American Art. “We are also excited to welcome new staff who will help us realize this important project.”

The grant also enables the Archives’ to create a new three-year term position for a full-time African American art collector who will consult with advisors and travel the country to acquire collections. It also supports paid summer Internships recruited from groups underrepresented in the field of art history to assist in the process and help digitize new acquisitions.

Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. The American Art Program was established in 1982 to support efforts to advance the knowledge, understanding and experience of American art through research, exhibitions, publications and collection projects. The American Art Program has distributed over $176 million to some 428 museums, universities and organizations in 48 states, the District of Columbia and internationally.